Boston Public School Bus Drivers Go On Strike

Union workers surprised the district Tuesday by not showing up for the job.

Bus drivers responsible for transporting students around Boston went on strike Tuesday morning in a move that shocked and surprised parents and teachers in the city.

According to the Boston Public School’s website, union members that were supposed to drive students to city schools staged an “illegal work action” Tuesday morning, aimed at “disrupting school bus service” to students in BPS, private, parochial, and charter schools.

Just 30 of the 650 schools buses meant to pick up Boston students were on the road Tuesday morning. Parents were warned through the website to expect delays, although schools remained open and on a regular schedule.

School officials said that the surprise protest “appears to be connected” to the union workers’ opposition to changes in the system, including steps to improve on-time performance, and a new web tool that allows families to track the location of their child’s school bus in real-time.

“At this time the protest involves approximately 600 drivers who are refusing to operate school buses today. This means most of the 33,000 students who ride school buses will be impacted,” school officials said, as news came down that drivers weren’t showing up to work to perform duties on their regular routes.

No statement from the Union has been issued at this time. The Boston School Bus Driver Union’s website is “under construction.”

In a statement from Mayor Tom Menino’s office, officials said the superintendent and mayor have been in constant communications, and the city is activating all of its resources including the Boston police department, neighborhood services, and Boston centers for youth and families to help with this disruption in service. “We will continue to work closely with the school department as this situation unfolds,” the statement said.

At a subsequent meeting Tuesday morning, Menino said the union had agreed to a contract but “they don’t want to live up to it.” Menino said the drivers have “gone to extremes,” and although their were rumblings about a possible strike, the union never indicated when it would happen.  The mayor’s administration promised to spend time trying to make sure buses would be up and running by Wednesday morning.

Hundreds of members of United Steelworkers of America Local 8751, which represents 700 bus drivers in Boston, staged a protest outside of a bus depot in Dorchester, refusing to work.

To help alleviate the stress stemming from the lack of buses, the MBTA allowed students over 11-years-old, with a valid Boston schools’ student ID, to ride both the subway and buses at no cost. Boston police also assisted in shipping students off to school Tuesday.